Not sure what to do...

Hi all. New to the forum, but I'm hoping some of you seasoned marathon runners can offer me some much needed advice.

I am signed up to run Edinburgh Marathon on the 27th of May. Training was going well up until about 5-6 weeks ago. I had run lots of halfs (in training), several 15s, one 20 (which hurt) and then, when going for a 22 (which I accept was too inexperience showing), suffered a calf/achilles strain at 17 miles. That was 5  weeks ago and since then I have gone through several relapses, all because I've been too hasty in trying to get back out. I haven't been able to run at all other than one 3 miler before it went again.

What I want to know is what I should be aiming for in terms of time on the day. My taregt was sub 4 hours and I did my one 20 mile training run in 2:47. I hope to be back running again in 10 days. In the 5 weeks since it happened, I have cycled a huge amount, putting in fast 8 milers to and from work most week days, adding on an additional 10 miles a couple of times a week at full tilt (heart rate sky high for a lot of it...far more out of breath than my training runs), and then cycling long on weekends with 2-3 hour sessions, including hill work and a hell of a lot of sweat.

I feel fit, but I know I'm not using (all) the right muscle groups. I have got myself so worked up about the whole thing, which is why I keep trying to go back out too soon. I've finally accepted that time to heal is the only solution and to do the best with what I can do (BIKE LIKE HELL).

So, given all that (somewhat rambling) info, what do you reckon? Should I set out at the 8:30 per mile I need to get a comfortable 4 hour marathon, or just lower my sights and wait for the next one? I know those unknown 6.2 miles are going to be hideous!


  • Not what you want to hear, but I wouldn't run it!

    You injured yourself doing too much too soon. Ease back into your running steadily without pressure. Either enter another marathon in the autumn, or keep the base running fitness going and do it next year, but build up more slowly.
  • Not an option. I have £2k of sponsorship for a head injury charity who support my friend (brain damaged in a car crash). I've got to do it, even if it means walking some of it.

     I've entered Leicester in October as a means of taking some of the (time target) pressure off myself.

  • Hog-mouseHog-mouse ✭✭✭

    um - walk / run

    hides under corner of thread.

    Take it very very slowly, make a day of it. Enjoy the jelly babies and jafa cakes. Don't do anything silly or hasty.

    Really if you are not fully fit and recovered from injury then running a race of any distance is the last thing that you want to do.

    A walk / run approach still means that you need to train and prepare, it also means that you need to be disciplined about your pace when walking and running and about doing the right amount of both to suit your needs. It is quite possiblr to walk run in 4:30 based on what you have said about your training.

    Your 8 miles cycling flat out is probably not going to help you as much as going for much longer cycle rides at a slower pace. You want to be developing your slow twitch muscles - going slowly. Try swimming slowly say 5k.

    Have you seen a fizzy? Are you doing any exercises for your achilles?

    oh and 9 m/m will get you a sub 4hr marathon. (3:54 + a bit)

  • Thanks for the advice. I've been seeing a physio. One of the relapses was when I overstretched doing the stretches they recommended (they didn't recommend I overstretch though). I'm back there again tomorrow morning. They've given me massage every time I've been and I have strengthening exercises to do. I also have heel inserts and a strap for my calf for when I do get running again.

    I'm thinking that if I can get back onto light running for a few days next week (I'll have given my strain a full 2 weeks off by next Wed) one way of keeping the endurance up without putting too much strain on my leg would be to go for a longish bike ride on the weekend - say 25 miles or so - and then go for a shorter (say 8-9 mile run) straight afterwards. If that goes OK, I might even be able to sneak in a 15 miler tagged onto a bike ride before taper. It's cutting it fine though.

    I guess I thought the intensive exercise would make sure my cardio is as good as it can be, which can't hurt.

    My average mile pace on long runs was in the region of 8m 20 prior to all this, so I can afford myself an extra half a minute per mile. If I don't make it in under 4 hours, I'll live with it, given what's happened.

  • I'm sure the vast majority of your supporters would be fine to postpone their giving until the Leicester marathon!
  • I just wanted to update on here in case anyone (as I did) goes searching around the internet and these forums for information when blighted by late, long-lasting injuries in their marathon training.

    I ended up losing 6 weeks of training due to repetative calf strains, 9 weeks out from my first marathon - Edinburgh. I had ambitions of running sub four hours initially. I missed the vast majority of my really long training runs and finally got back to running 1 week before I should have been starting my taper (3 weeks before the event). The approach I took to training through this may not have been conventional in parts, but it worked, as I got round Edinburgh last Sunday in 3 hours 52. Nothing spectacular for many on here, but under the circumstances, I was extatic.

    What I did:

    1) Cycled like hell. 3-4 maniacal 18 mile bike rides during the week aimed purely at keeping my cardiovascular very high. In addition to this, one longer, but still intense, 30-40 mile bike ride on the weekend. The one thing I would say is that when I got back on my legs, I really noticed the fact that I had been using different muscle groups, but it didn't take long for this to right itself. I felt that I would be more confident in my ability to run if I knew my cardio was where it needed to be. I'd done a lot of running prior to the injury, so felt that it wouldn't be too hard to get them back to where they needed to be once I was running again.

    2) See a physio. I had a weekly appointment at Crystal Palace sports physio (NHS funded, wonderful service) and they advised me on how to strengthen, stretch and use a foam roller (the latter made a huge difference to my recovery and I recommend investing in one). I still aggravated the strain on several occasions due to my own over-eagerness to start running again. DO NOT RUSH BACK FROM INJURY. You'll only end up back where you started.

    3) I reduced the taper...a lot. As I had only got one 20 mile run in the bank by the time I could run again, I ran one 20-miler two weeks before the event and then ran another 20-miler 8 days before the race. The first one was hell, the second one was better, but by the time the marathon arrived, I felt like I had the miles back in my legs. I only ran once again in those final 7 days (a pacey 6 miler) to allow my legs to recover. I still felt fresh on marathon day. I guess this depends on the individual though. I am 30. Perhaps for a 40 or 50 year old body, the legs may not recover quickly enough for this to be an option.

    The final thing I want to add is that none of this is intended as advice per se, but motivation. I was devastated at times when the injury kept recurring. It's so frustrating and I could feel the whole thing falling apart every time I tried to run and felt a sharp pull in my calf. I wanted that sub four hours so badly and, although I'd accepted it probably wouldn't happen when I lined up for the race, I was adamant that it wasn't going to be because I hadn't worked hard enough. If you can't run, make your goal to be even fitter by the time you can run. Don't rush back from your injury. Listen to your body; if you feel you can push it in the taper phase, I'd say do it. It did me no harm.

    Race day was an enjoyable experience for me. I felt better in the marathon than on the two 20-milers the previous two weekends, despite horrible heat, and managed to get my target time. If anybody in a similar situation to me does end up reading this, stay positive, keep working hard, you'll do it.



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